October 2, 2008 / 4:08 AM / 11 years ago

Rescue crews find wreckage of Fossett's plane

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Rescue crews have found the wreckage of a small plane in eastern California mountains that appears to be the one piloted by millionaire adventurer Steve Fossett, the National Transportation Safety Board said on Thursday.

Millionaire adventurer Steve Fossett in a 2006 photo. REUTERS/Rick Fowler

The NTSB said the small airplane found on Wednesday “appears to be the aircraft piloted by Steve Fossett.”

The safety board did not say anything in a statement about finding any remains of Fossett’s body.

Fossett, 63, vanished in his single-engine Bellanca airplane after taking off from a private airstrip in Nevada in September 2007.

The wreckage was located about 10,000 feet up the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the vicinity of Mammoth Lakes, California. The NTSB said it has sent an investigator to the accident site.

The fact that safety board officials were dispatched to the scene and would comment publicly on the plane indicates a strong likelihood that it was Fossett’s.

Despite weeks of extensive land and air searches after Fossett disappeared, no wreckage was found, and he was declared legally dead in February after investigators concluded that his airplane was destroyed in a fatal accident.

But a hiker in a remote area of California this week found two of his aviation identification cards.

The cards and a sweatshirt were found in a remote part of Madera County in the eastern Sierras between Yosemite National Park and the Nevada border.

Police in California said on Wednesday that more than 30 search teams were being formed to comb the mountainous area for the wreckage in coming days ahead of a potential snowfall.

Reporting by John Crawley, writing by Deborah Charles, editing by Philip Barbara

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